ລິ້ງ ສຳຫລັບເຂົ້າຫາ

Israel Pushes into Gaza City


ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli troops and tanks pushed deeper into Gaza City today as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon prepared to travel to the Middle East to press for a truce between Israel and Palestinian militants. Planes dropped bombs and gun battles erupted in the early morning hours today - the latest moves in an Israeli offensive to stop cross-border rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. More than 900 Palestinians and at least 13 Israelis have died in the fighting. Mr. Ban leaves later today on a Middle East tour with stops in Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait.

RUSSIA EUROPE GAS: Russia says Ukraine is now blocking deliveries of Russian natural gas to Europe. Earlier today, Russia's state-controlled gas company, Gazprom, said it had resumed pumping gas to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines, after a six-day cutoff that left millions of Europeans freezing in some of the coldest temperatures of the winter so far. Russia supplies about one-quarter of Europe's natural gas supplies. Most of that is shipped through pipelines that run across Ukraine. Russia cut off gas piped to Europe last week, accusing Ukraine of stealing from the transit lines.

US - CONFIRMATION - CLINTON: U.S. Secretary of State nominee Senator Hillary Clinton is set to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for a confirmation hearing. Officials with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team say the former first lady and presidential candidate is expected to promise the senators a renewal of American leadership and a revitalization of U.S. diplomacy. The officials say Clinton will endorse the use of what they describe as "smart power" by the United States, and the use of all of the country's tools of foreign policy.

OBAMA - AFGHANISTAN: A published report says the incoming Obama administration will conduct a complete review of the U.S. military's mission in Afghanistan. "The Washington Post" says today President-elect Barack Obama will approve a Pentagon plan to send up to 30-thousand more troops to Afghanistan, which would nearly double the current U.S. troop presence. The newspaper says Mr. Obama's national security team does not expect the new deployments to significantly improve conditions in Afghanistan, but will help give the administration enough time to reappraise the situation and develop a comprehensive new strategy.

US - CHINA: Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says the diplomatic relationship between the United States and China is the most important one in the world. Mr. Carter made the comment on Monday during a ceremony in Beijing to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the two former Cold War rivals. The former president and then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping announced the normalization of relations on January first, 1979, after several years of secret negotiations. Mr. Carter said President-elect Barack Obama had asked him to extend his personal greetings to Chinese leaders.

NOKOR NUCLEAR: South Korean officials said today that a nuclear envoy will visit North Korea this week to discuss the possible purchase of unused fuel rods from the North's plutonium-producing reactor. A foreign ministry spokesman said deputy chief nuclear envoy Hwang Joon-Kook would lead a delegation scheduled to arrive in Pyongyang Thursday. North Korea is disabling its Yongbyon nuclear plants under a 2007 six-nation aid-for disarmament deal. Seoul has expressed interest in buying the North's unused fuel rods if they can be adapted to work at South Korea's nuclear power plants.

INDONESIA - FERRY: Indonesian authorities have resumed their search for more than 200 people missing and feared dead from a ferry accident early Sunday. Authorities said at least 34 people, including the captain, have been rescued off the west cost of Sulawesi island. One dead body was also recovered on Monday. Officials said hopes of finding more survivors faded as rough seas hampered rescue efforts more than 48-hours after the ferry sank. Indonesia's transport minister says the ferry's captain, who survived, is under investigation for setting out to sea despite weather agency warnings of stormy conditions.

WORLD FREEDOM SDBR EAST ASIA: A new global survey shows that more than half of the world's people who lack basic freedoms live in China. In its annual report Monday, the U.S. based organization Freedom House says one-third of the world's population lives in 42 countries designated as "not free." And nearly 60 percent of that number live in China. The report notes China's failure to enact significant democratic reforms, or gestures towards improved human rights, during the year it hosted the Olympic Games. The report says this was the most disappointing development in 2008.

THAILAND - TORTURE: The rights group Amnesty International has accused Thailand's police and military of routinely torturing suspects in their fight against an insurgency in the country's Muslim-majority south. The group said today that at least four people have died as a result of torture in the southernmost provinces, where 35 hundred people have been killed in a five-year separatist rebellion. Donna Guest, Amnesty's deputy Asia director, said torture is absolutely illegal and alienates the local population. Guest said that while rebels had engaged in brutal acts, nothing justifies the security forces' reliance on torture.

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